The New Yooyu
Slimes the Plushie Slorg waited near the window for his owner, Ed. He could hardly contain his stuffing; once Ed got home, he would be able to play with him!
Slimes was an expert Yooyu-ball player. But he wasn't the goalie, or a forward or on defense. Slimes was the substitute for the Yooyu. He could curl himself into a ball, and his cotton-filled body was more than durable enough for a couple hard throws.
Suddenly, Slimes spotted Ed, a Striped Aisha, running down the sidewalk. Slimes's little slug tail started wagging, and he scooted to the edge of the window sill before plopping down on the floor. He rushed across the living room and got to the front door just as it opened.
"Lina!" Ed called, racing through the hallway. Slimes turned and started following after him.
"Lina!" Ed called again, finding her in her bedroom. "Guess what?!" Then, without waiting for her to guess, he continued. "I just got back from Yooyuball practice, and our team is going to get a real live Yooyu!"
"Really?" Lina, his owner, asked. "That's great, Ed! I know how hard your school's team has been trying to get a Yooyu. What type is it?"
"A normal Yooyu! And, those are like the best ones for practicing and playing!" He bit his lip, before asking, "And Lina, guess what? The couch asked me if I could take care of it when we're not at games or at practice!"
"I don't know...," Lina said slowly. She glimpsed Slimes waiting at the doorway, ready to play with Ed. "You already have a petpet, Ed."
"He wouldn't be my new petpet, he belongs to the team," Ed pointed out. "And I'll still take care of Slimes. Besides, Slimes would probably enjoy not being tossed around as much."
"Well...," Lina paused considering. "Well, alright. We can at least try it for a while."
"Yes!" Ed cheered. "Thanks, Lina!" He hugged her quickly before running out and up the stairs towards his room, eager to get the new Yooyu's bed set up.
Slimes worked his way up the staircase one step at a time, his plushie Slorg body sticking to the carpet like Velcro. It took him a while, but he finally reached the top. He scooted towards the room that he shared with his owner and petpetpet.
Ed was rearranging the petpet beds and pillows on the floor. Slimes's Ditrey, an unusually large petpetpet named Patty, was so big that she had to have a whole petpet bed to herself. She was asleep in it now, her tongue hanging out of her mouth and soft snores emanating from her fuzzy body.
Ed finally looked at him when Slimes nudged his leg. "Oh, hey, Slimes! Guess what? You're getting a new friend!"
Slimes wagged his tail and chirped, excited by his owner's tone.
"Yup! But I'm going to need to you share a bed with Patty, okay? So that the new petpet can have a bed."
Slimes cocked his head, confused by the statement.
"Here." Ed picked him up and placed him next to Patty. Slimes blinked, even more confused, before squirming out and back to his own bed.
"No, Slimes," Ed repeated, putting him back with Patty. "We'll get you a new petpet bed, promise, but you have to sleep here for now."
Slimes chirped again, still confused but deciding to ignore the problem. He nudged his Ed's leg again, urging him to play.
"Hang on, Slimes, I have to get ready for the new Yooyu. I'm going to be getting him tomorrow!"
Slimes chirped again, scooting over to Ed's Yooyuball Sling and curling up in it, ready to play.
"Later, Slimes. We'll play later, promise." Ed stood up again and left the room, racing back down the stairs. Slimes poked his head out of the sling, surprised to find the room now empty, besides the large snoring petpetpet. He slid over to the door before tumbling back down stairs.
Ed went back and forth through the house, gathering a spare petpet food bowl, toys, everything he thought that the Yooyu could need. Slimes followed him doggedly, his tail flapping and, as Ed kept on running around, his tongue panting.
Finally, exhausted, Slimes followed Ed back up the stairs and to his petpet bed.
"No, Slimes, remember? You get to sleep with Patty now." Ed picked him up and tucked him next to the Ditrey, and Slimes was too tired to figure out what he wanted. He just stayed with Patty in the bed while Ed got ready to sleep.
Slimes didn't sleep well that night; Patty's gentle snore seemed much louder up close. Plus, while she dreamt, she kicked her many legs out, repeatedly jarring Slimes awake and even pushing him out of bed once. He was tempted to crawl over to his own bed, but he remembered how Ed had wanted him to stay with Patty, and he made do by sleeping on the floor.
The next morning, he was woken by Patty lumbering over him, heading towards the door. He blinked his eyes open and stretched, trying to work out the kinks in his stuffing. Last night had certainly not been comfortable.
Ed was already gone, and Slimes decided to follow Patty. She was most likely going to get breakfast; all Patty ever did was eat and sleep. Slimes thought that might be part of the reason why she was so big.
The petpet room was filled with toys and bowls for all of the petpets and petpetpets that lived in the Neohome. Patty was chowing down at her bowl - she was the only petpetpet big enough to have her own bowl – and Sweets, a Checkered Aisha who was Ed's sister, was busy filling Slimes's own.
She shook her head. "Ed left without even giving you guys breakfast. He's lucky I was in here when Patty got here, otherwise things could've gotten ugly. I've filled your bowl with Slug Flakes, Slimes. Enjoy." She patted the little slorg's head before leaving, and Slimes chirped happily at her.
Slug Flakes were tiny, papery food flakes that Slimes just loved. They melted in his mouth and had a rich, savory flavor. He happily lapped them up before going over to play with Tritter, a Ghost Kadoatie, and Lucas, a Maraquan Warf. He bounced a toy Mootix around with them before Ray, a Maraquan Aisha, called Lucas to go for a swim and Tritter floated through the wall to find her owner, Yellow.
Slimes drooped a little, wondering what to do. Suddenly, he heard the front door open, and then Ed's voice. Slimes chirped and started running towards the sound of it. Maybe Ed would want to play today!
"Hey, Lina! Look!" Ed called. Slimes rushed towards the sound of Ed's voice. "Isn't he cool? His name is Dasher, after the Yooyuball player. You wouldn't believe how fast he is! I'm going to go practice with him right now."
Slimes reached the living room just as Ed ran past him and out the front door. It slammed shut before Slimes could go outside too, and he nudged at it, trying to pry it open.
"There you go, little guy," Lina said gently, picking Slimes up and opening the door for him. She set him on the doorstep and closed the door again.
Slimes craned his head, looking for Ed outside. Something whizzed past him, and a moment later, Ed was chasing after it.
"Yeah! Go, Dasher!"
Slimes started chirping and wagging his tail. He started sliding after Ed, ready to get in the game as well.
The Yooyu turned in mid-air, and Ed followed it, his sling reaching out to try and catch it. Slimes tried to get out his way, but Ed was going with too much momentum; Slimes got tangled in his feet, and Ed came crashing down, missing the Yooyu completely.
"Ow! What the--?" Ed sat up, rubbing his knee. "Oh, Slimes! Come on, you messed me up!"
Slimes chirped apologetically. The Yooyu paused, standing on the edge of the lawn and watching the Striped Aisha.
Slimes nudged the sling, and Ed sighed. "Not now, Slimes. I'm playing with Dasher. Here, you go back inside."
Ed scooped up the slorg and opened the door, setting him down in the hallway before rushing back out. Slimes heard him yell and then laugh as he chased after Dasher.
Slimes let out a small sluggish sigh and slid into the living room. He curled up on the rug and stared dejectedly at the cold fireplace.
When Lina walked in an hour later and saw him still lying there, she made an angry huffing sound and opened the front door.
"Ed!" she yelled. "Get in here."
After a moment, Ed appeared, the Yooyu at his heals. "What is it, Lina?"
"You need to play with Slimes too. Look at him." She gestured towards the Plushie Slorg. "He's your petpet, and he wants to play with you."
Ed glanced at Slimes. "But Lina, slorgs aren't made for playing Yooyuball. Yooyus are! Besides, it's only been a day. Slimes is fine, he's just jealous that there's a new petpet around."
"Play with him," Lina commanded, "or else I'll tell your coach that we cannot keep Dasher."
Ed stared at her; it was rare that Lina ever gave him or his siblings ultimatums. "Fine," he finally agreed. "I'll play with him this evening."
"No, you'll play with him now. Come on, Dasher," Lina said, picking up the Yooyu. "You can play in the petpet room with the other petpets while Ed spends time with Slimes."
Ed stood still, anger boiling in his chest. He wanted to be a professional Yooyuball player. How was he supposed to ever be that good if Lina wouldn't let him practice with a real Yooyu!
"Ugh!" he growled. He scooped up Slimes in his sling and stomped back outside. Slimes jumped, startled to suddenly find himself flying away from the floor.
Ed threw him up and Slimes tumbled, losing his form. Ed reached out with his sling and caught him.
Ed, frustrated that Slimes wasn't a real Yooyu, tossed him up again without giving him time to collect himself. This time Slimes lost complete control, and when Ed tried to catch him, he missed. The Plushie Slorg tumbled into a bush, causing a tear in his fabric. He yelped in pain.
Ed was instantly on the ground, reaching into the branches. "Come on, Slimes. I'm sorry, buddy. I didn't mean it. Come on, come out of there."
Slimes scooted closer to the center of the bush, just out of Ed's reach. Ed peered underneath the bush, but he had lost sight of him. "Slimes? Where are you? Slimes?" Slimes heard him stand and walk around the yard, calling his name.
Slimes hid, nursing his wound. Fat, hot tears slid out of his eyes, quickly absorbing into his plushie body. It wasn't the first time he had gotten injured while playing Yooyuball; Slimes knew that these things happened. But it was the first time that Ed had wanted to play with a petpet other than him.
Ed went back inside, and Slimes started sobbing. He had already given up searching for him! As fast as he could, he scooted out of the bush, tears still in his eyes. He raced down the sidewalk to the end of the block, then turned and kept on going.
Finally, he stopped next to a small alleyway. His fabric ached and he was cold and wet from his tears. He scooted into an old cardboard box and fell asleep, exhausted from hurt that was both physical and emotional.
He awoke to the sound of snuffling; startled, Slimes ran into the night just as something pounced on him. He squirmed away, but not before earning another tear. He ran blindly now, straight through mud and dirt and puddles.
Slimes wanted something to eat, and somebody to give him a bath and sew up the rips in his skin. He scooted through Neopia Central, looking left and right for somewhere to go.
Finally, he spotted a mushroom-shaped building. Petpets were in the windows, looking warm and happy and healthy. Slimes hurried towards it, nudging the door to try and see if anyone was inside.
A Yellow Usul finally opened it; she looked down and spotted Slimes.
"Oh, you poor little thing," she said, reaching down to pick him up. "I don't normally take in Spooky Petpets, but I can easily make an exception. Let's get you cleaned up."
She brought him inside the warm shop and straight towards a sink. "Can't have any of that Slorg slime getting on the carpet, now can we?"
Slimes realized that she thought he was a regular Slorg; he certainly looked like one, as covered with mud and gunk as he was. She turned on the warm water and plunged him into it before massaging his fabric and helping the dirt ooze off. Slimes chirped, appreciative of the care.
"Oh my," she said when she realized the gunk was washing off, revealing white instead of green. She quickly rinsed the rest of him. "Oh my, you're a Plushie, aren't you? Are you somebody's pet? Did you get lost?"
She wrapped a towel around him and rung him out, trying to get the water out of his stuffing. Then she set him on the table and turned on a blow dryer, sending blasts of hot air all over his body. Slimes squeaked, but it felt nice to be clean.
"Aw, and you're all torn up. Good thing my mother taught me to sew." Once he was dry, the Usul took him to her rocking chair and fetched a basket filled with needles, string, and yarn. She threaded a needle and got him comfy on her lap.
"Okay, little one, this may sting a little." She poked the needle into his fabric and started making quick, clean stitches. Slimes sat very still throughout the process, and finally, she was done.
"There, all better." She kissed the top of his head before putting him on the floor. "Now what am I going to do with you?"
She rocked as she considered him. Not only was he a Spooky Petpet, he was also painted. She wouldn't be able to sell him in her shop in Neopia Central. She could, hypothetically, sell him in the auctions or at the trading post, but he had already obviously been through a lot, and she couldn't guarantee that whoever bought him would take good care of him.
"I guess you're just going to have to stay here with me," the Usul concluded. "Or, at least, until I can find you a good home." With that thought, she stood to fetch him some petpet food. It wasn't Slug Flakes, but Slimes was too hungry to care. He chowed down anyway.
"Here you go, fella, you can sleep in this bed," the Usul told him once he was finished. She scooped him up and placed him in a clean basket filled with fluffy blankets and pillows. Slimes snuggled happily among them, and the Usul giggled. "Sleep tight, little guy."
Slimes woke the next morning when a little bell went off, signaling that someone was entering the shop. He peeked out of the basket and was surprised to see Lina and Ed together. He wiggled down in his basket. Had Ed decided to replace him so quickly?
"Hello!" the kind Usul said. "What can I help you with?"
"My Aisha has lost his petpet," Lina said quietly. "Have you seen him? We've been putting these posters up all around town." Slimes heard the sound of paper rustling.
"A Plushie Slorg?" the Usul asked. "Well... one of them did come here last night, but he was pretty beat up. It didn't look like whoever owned him was taking good care of him."
Someone started crying, and Slimes peeked out of the basket again to see Ed in tears. "Please," he said, "Please tell him that I'm sorry! All he wanted to do was play, and I ignored him and then he got hurt and ran away. I was such a jerk. I gave the Yooyu back to my coach; I'd rather have Slimes than any fancy petpet."
Slimes tumbled out of his basket and onto the floor.
"Slimes was always there for me! He always wanted to play Yooyuball with me, and he always knew exactly what would make me laugh, and sometimes if I was sick or if it was thundering outside he would climb out of his bed and snuggle close to me and I would feel better."
Slimes started scooting across the floor; the Usul watched his progress, but Ed didn't see him.
"And I realize how stupid I was. I should never have taken him for granted. But if he doesn't want to come home, I understand."
Slimes nudged Ed's foot, and Ed looked down.
"Slimes!" he cried, reaching down to hug the Plushie Slorg. "Slimes, I'm so sorry. I'm so stupid. I should have paid attention to you."
Slimes chirped in his ear, letting him know that he was forgiven. Then he started wiggling, and Ed put him on the ground, trying to wipe tears off of his face. Slimes spun around in a quick circle and chirped like he always did when he wanted to play.
A watery laugh escaped Ed, tears still leaking out of his eyes although he tried to hide them. "Yeah, buddy. I'd like to play Yooyuball too." He coughed and turned towards the Usul. "Thank you for taking care of him."
"You're welcome. I think he has a good home, but I hope you take better care of him in the future," the Usul said.
"I will," Ed said. "I promise."
Ed picked Slimes back up, and they went back to their Neohome. Ed put on his Yooyuball sling and tossed Slimes up in the air; Slimes bounced back down and Ed caught him. Slimes chirped happily, and the two of them spent the afternoon playing together.